Wednesday, November 25, 2020



(Image: Subbotina Anna/Shutterstock)

Thanksgiving 2020 will likely go down in history as one of the strangest for many people. Now, apart from dreading having to deal with troublesome Uncle Frank another year, there is a much more serious specter looming over the decision to travel to get together with family and friends: Covid-19.

Although over three million people have reportedly passed through our airports already, a good 71% of travelers say they are more comfortable going by car than flying, according to a Volvo Car-USA and Harris Poll. 

Masked traveler (Image: OPOLJA/Shutterstock)

Air travelers interviewed on CNN and other outlets expressed how much they wanted to see, touch, and hug their loved ones after 9-10 months of separation from them. Neither the CDC advisory against traveling this holiday season nor the horrific Covid-19 statistics is persuasion enough: The death toll has topped 259,000 out of a staggering total 12.5 million cases with an average of 167,000 new daily cases and a projection of 20 million cases by January 20, 2021. Hospitalizations are surging and many hospitals are at capacity.

Some of us, myself included, find the risk-benefit analysis of millions to be baffling. You might be dying to see Granny again but she might be dying in two weeks after you kissed her on the cheek and gave her a puff of your Covid-19-laden breath. At the moment, personal family gatherings can act as super spreader events.

I believe flawed reasoning has determined the decision to travel and gather with family:

1. Hard to believe something I can't see. Viruses floating in the air? I don't see them, so I'm not that alarmed.

Corona Airport

2. A negative Covid test before travel means I'm okay. Long lines of cars formed at testing sites before this holiday week as people sought the reassurance that they were negative and "cleared" for travel. Unfortunately, between the time of the test and the arrival at the destination, contraction of the virus could occur. The test is only a snapshot in time: at this moment, I am unable to detect any virus inside you.

              Line for Covid-19 testing, Dodger Stadium Nov 18, 2020
              (Image: Ringo Chiu/Shutterstock)

3. I have my mask, I will socially distance, and I'll be fine. Here's the problem. If you are 
 traveling by air, you will undoubtedly run into areas of travel where you may be packed in with crowds
 of people you cannot possibly be distant from. Recall that in the bustle and hustle of travel your mask and other people's masks may slip down the nose or off the mouth. Are you planning to eat or drink at the airport or during flight? You'll have to take your mask then, won't you? If someone starts coughing beside you in your packed plane (and they will be packed), how can you be sure they are not spewing virus-laden droplets? This may seem like doomsday thinking, but think of the stories you hear about Covid-afflicted people who believed they had been very careful but still got the disease.

4. Willful blindness. People who no longer want to deal with a painful problem can go into denial and    choose to ignore the issue. This is exactly what happened to soon-to-be-ex-President Trump. There are also people who have a difficult time imagining themselves in the position of those who are struck down by Covid-19. They can't feel it. Others yet have become desensitized to the daily barrage of appalling numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and death.

5. The vaccine is coming, so no problem. You have no idea when you'll receive the vaccine, which, by the way, is not a cure for Covid-19. Between now and the time you get the vaccine, you could get infected.

Be ready, friends, this last spike of cases before the vaccine could be our worst yet as a result of the holidays.

What's Thanksgiving All About, Anyway?
Supposedly, in 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Native Americans shared an autumn harvest feast and this was the "first Thanksgiving." In fact, both Europeans and Native Americans had been having food celebration festivals all along. It was really in the 1830s that New Englanders looked back at the event and thought it resembled their version of the holiday and therefore designated it as the "first Thanksgiving."

I'm firmly skeptical of oft-repeated historic legends, because time has undoubtedly modified and changed the story to become something that the original event was not. The story of what happened to the Native Americans at the hands of Europeans disallows us from presenting the story of Thanksgiving out of context and as if it was all sweetness and light.

So, on many Thanksgiving feasts as I've gorged on excessive amounts of food, I have often felt guilty at the dining table as I think of the less fortunate. My mind strays to the question, "What exactly are we doing, and are we sure we know what we're celebrating?" Like many traditions, Thanksgiving's true meaning, if there ever was one, has undoubtedly been lost and turned into an over-the-top occasion. On the plus side, the warmth of company can be a joy. Perhaps just a little less stuff on the table? 

And so, me?
You can tell that I'm ambivalent to the Thanksgiving ritual. It's okay if I don't have one. This 2020 year, millions are out of work as a result of the Covid pandemic and government neglect and mismanagement, and I'm not sure I feel good about "pigging out." As I've done in the past, I might go out and help serve up some free meals for those who have little or nothing. I think I'll feel better. 



  1. Yay, Kwei, for illustrating the truth so well. I like your Turke Day alternative plan!

  2. Every one of your points is well made, Kwei. I wish the world would listen to you.

    Your point on Thanksgiving is why I've taken at times to wishing a punny "Happy Bird Day," rather than the usual "Happy Thanksgiving." More so not to offend those who rightly take issue with the historically portrayed origins of the holiday. To me it's always been about family and friends coming together, and nothing else. It is my favorite holiday, and I deeply missed celebrating it in person this year beyond my anti-Covid, self-isolating pod of two.